“Innovation has nothing to do with how many R&D dollars you have. When Apple came up with the Mac, IBM was spending at least 100 times more on R&D. It's not about money. It's about the people you have, how you're led, and how much you get it.” - Steve Jobs

The pinnacle of just awful experience

So here is the story … I have SprintPCS. Before everyone just screams out “Awwwww! Man!! I’m so sorry!” I do have to say in general, I like my service. They usually mess up in ways that are subtle and don’t hit me directly. I.e. how can they have phones that receive SMS (only through an e-mail address) but then can’t RESPOND!!!! This is just a huge tease.

This time though, it’s personal, and it is beyond lame service …

So I’m lookin’ at my checking account my my usual auto-deduction for my cellphone doesn’t happen. (I have it auto-dedcut from my debit card so I get me some miles.) My credit card expires in like 3 years from now. What I notice to my surprise is that unlike what my invoice said on the web site last month, “do not send payment” it will be auto-deducted on this date. It says it! DON’T PAY!!! But it didn’t auto-deduct.

How do I find this out though? I find this out when my eyes pop out of my head when my bill is double this month and causes me to go hunting for information. Luckily I’m good at math and I remembered something about this happening before so I didn’t exactly panic. I did however have to take time out of my busy day and call customer support. First I have to deal with a slightly annoying Voice Recognition/Response System. Why is this annoying? Because I call from a loft space at work and everyone can hear me grunt out the responses. The don’t give you numbers as options. Yes, it is cool, but the better systems allow for both possibilities … sheesh!

So I finially get a customer rep and he tells me that “my card expired”. I’m like, what? I’m lookin’ at it right here and it doesn’t expire for another 3 years. He says, I’m sorry sir, what I meant to say was that your auto-deduct for that card expires. We only renew it for a year at a time.

I don’t EVEN want to go into the reasons why this is just plain idiotic … I don’t even ask “why” though someone should.

What I do ask is if there is any way that I can be told this sooner so that I can somehow renew it on my own? Also, is there another way to renew it besides calling you? (Mind you, you can practically blow your nose on their web site, so I know they have the talent to come up w/ something.) He said no.

So right now, I’m already beyond disappointed in my service provider and as a UX designer, I’m just fuming what how unnecessary this whole experience is. But I take a positive approach and ask the gentleman on the phone to pass on a message to the folks in Kansas City who design this system. (I know they are there, b/c I see the job postings.) I just ask for them to send out a reminder a week or two before the renewal is necessary. Shoot they have 2 ways of contacting me. (I didn’t say that part.)

So what was this kind man’s response? (I use the term kind loosely.)

“I’m sorry they won’t do that.”

I’m totally in shock.I don’t think in the last 5 years I have ever heard an answer like that from someone in customer service anywhere before.

He had so many options:
1. It would be better to go to our web site and use our feedback form. (Just checked, they do have one, though it is burried below the fold of the “Help” page.)

2. I’m sorry we do not have a system for dealing with such feedback. While a lame response would have been more polite than “They won’t!”

3. SprintPCS has made the determination that these forced moments of customer contact are beneficial to our customer relationship and we use these events as a means of staying in touch. So our engineering team has been instructed to not set up reminders like this.

I can’t imagine what they are thinking if #3 is true in this day and age, and I know I didn’t feel this was at all a positive experience at all.

So, I have added an alarm to my calendar for a year from now. Oh Joy!

What are your fun stories with mobile phone service providers?

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